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Friday, November 30, 2007

VANGELIS - Tales Of The Future (1982)

Due to the impending reissue of Blade Runner on DVD, here is a haunting track from the film. The singer is non other that DEMIS ROUSSOS, a Greek singer-songwriter. Vangelis had just worked with him on Roussos' last solo album "Demis". They had collaborated in the progressive band APHRODITE'S CHILD, about 11 years earlier. Strained relationships broke up that band, so it's interesting to hear them working together again.

Here's a blurb on the 'lyrics' of the song, from a Vangelis lyrics website: "The lyrics are spoken in Arabic with an Egyptian accent (Demis was raised in Egypt as a child). Most of the words however are gibberish and sometimes almost resemble other Arabic words but they are altered and arranged differently so they sound meaningless. Listening to the lyrics as whole does not build into a story and there is little sense trying to make sense of it. At the end of it there is a little passage where it does convey two meaningful sentences : 'Tell me my dear? Tell me my mother?' (translated)"
:Demis Roussos:

Song : "Tales Of The Future"
From the LP "BLADE RUNNER" (EMI) recorded 1982, released 1994
Demis Roussos : vocals
Vangelis : all music

Vangelis - Tales Of The Future

Saturday, November 24, 2007

ROBERTA FLACK - Compared To What (1969)

This is the first song off of Roberta Flack's first album. She had the talent, but hadn't broken through to the big-time yet. One of her few funky tunes, it has some sweet stand-up bass from legend Ron Carter and strong protest lyrics against the Vietnam War. Carter would be recording for Miles Davis' album "Bitches Brew" shortly after.

This one was written by a certain Gene McDaniels (a.k.a. Eugene McDaniels), a singer-songwriter for Atlantic records, and a groovy solo artist in his own right. This song also has a connection with soul-jazz keyboardist Les McCann. McCann saw Roberta Flack perform at a benefit concert (back when she was a schoolteacher), and was so impressed he had her guest on his album "Les Is More" in 1967 as one of her earliest recorded appearances. An early studio version of "Compared To What" was on this album (although she does not sing on the song).
McCann then arranged for her to audition for Atlantic records, where she got a contract, and quickly recorded this first album. The day after it was released, McCann played this song at the Montreux Jazz Festival with sax player Eddie Harris (released as "Swiss Movement" in 1969). It was so well-received that it became a signature song for him and a strong protest song of the war and civil-rights movement. Perhaps I will post his version later!

Many thanks to Pingus Miloren for the hook-up to this album.
Song: "Compared To What"
From the LP "FIRST TAKE" (Atlantic) Jun. 20, 1969

Roberta Flack : vocals, piano
Ray Lucas : drums
Ron Carter : bass
John Pizzarelli : guitar
Frank Wess : tenor sax
Seldon Powell : baritone sax
Bennie Powell : trombone
Joe Newman & Jimmy Nottingham : trumpets
Joel Dorn : producer

Get it here : Roberta Flack - Compared To What

Saturday, November 17, 2007

QUEEN - Innuendo (1991)

In tribute to the musical "We Will Rock You", here is the title track from Queen's last studio album before Freddie Mercury passed away.

Here is a blurb about the song from Wikipedia:
"Innuendo" began as a jam session in Switzerland amongst May, Taylor and Deacon in spring 1989. Mercury was upstairs and heard them playing the beat, and turned it into a song, creating the melody and starting off the lyrics. From then on they all four worked on polishing the track and Taylor took over the lyrics (which were written as a tribute to Led Zeppelin and their song "Kashmir". David Richards and a flamenco interlude played by Yes guitarist Steve Howe, who had come to visit them and was asked to play what Brian May himself admitted he couldn't. Like "Kashmir", the title of the song is only mentioned once.

And here is the blurb from allmusicguide:
Queen began their final album together in an appropriately regal style with this track, a complex epic that harkened back to their 1970's classics like "Bohemian Rhapsody." The lyrics present a message of hope: in a world where "we live according to race, color or creed" and where leaders rule by "blind madness and pure greed," hope can still be found if one has the will to do better: "Yes, we’ll keep on trying/Tread that fine line/Oh, we’ll keep on trying/’Til the end of time." It also adds a shot of pure hope during the song’s midsection: "You can be anything you want to be/Just turn yourself into anything you think that you could ever be." The music lends this ambitious lyric the grandiosity it needs, marrying verses that make a determined ascent from minor-key depths to a rousing chorus that reaches for the sky. It also works in a fanciful, delicate bridge whose fluttery phrases add a shot of pure pop to an otherwise rock oriented song. Queen’s recording of "Innuendo" delivers their personalized mix of pomp and power in high style: the main part of the song is built on a mixture of spooky synthesizers and guitar-anchored rock but also works in an unexpected flamenco guitar instrumental break played by guest guitarist Steve Howe and a stunning bridge where cascades of synthesizers and glossy vocal harmonies give way to an electric jam. Freddie Mercury providess a lead vocal that matches power with grace and Brian May and Roger Taylor add lush harmonies that add a final layer of richness to the sound. The resulting combination of power chords and ear candy didn’t make much of a chart impression in the U.S. but became a #1 hit in the U.K. and did similarly well elsewhere in Europe. It remains a favorite with Queen fans everywhere and one of their most inspired latter day efforts.

Song: "Innuendo"
From the LP "INNUENDO" (Hollywood) Feb. 4, 1991

Freddie Mercury (vocals, keyboards)
Brian May (guitar, keyboards, harmonies)
John Deacon (bass, keyboards)
Roger Taylor (drums, percussion, keyboards, harmonies)
Steve Howe (Spanish guitar)

Get it here: Queen - Innuendo

Saturday, November 10, 2007

CAETANO VELOSO - Não Me Arrependo (2006)

The mighty Caetano Veloso, one of Brazil's most endearing singer-songwriters, has probably touched on almost every style of music that came along since the 1960s. One of the architects of Brazil's Tropicalia movement, is alive and well and still recording. He is currently touring North America, and I will catch his show when he comes through town.

This song is from his newest studio album, which is back to a guitar/bass/drums format. The bass starts off with a Lou Reed style, but nicely adds electric piano to the mix, giving it a more organic retro feel. He his still using his voice in his typical dramatic style, and the whole album is quite solid as a group effort. It's impressive that he still coming out with good material after 40 years solid!

Song: "Não Me Arrependo"

From the album "Cê" (Mercury) Sep. 1, 2006

Get it here: Caetano Veloso - Não Me Arrependo (2006)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Eddie Fisher - Cosmic Blues (1977)

Eddie Fisher
R.I.P. 1943 - 2007
OK so the last one on the list is guitarist Eddie Fisher (not to be confused with the crooner of the same name). I personally can't get enough of this guy; a good jazz sense, but oh so funky. He passed away this year from prostate cancer.

Here is the blurb when he was inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame:
"Eddie Fisher is not only an honoree but also a guest performer at the 2004 Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame. This Hall of Fame was arranged in conjunction with the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation and the Old State House Museum Associates. That event is called Remembering 9th Street: A Night of Jazz, one of the special events related to the museum's exhibit Send You Back to Arkansas: Our Own Sweet Sounds II.

"Eddie Fisher spent the first 17 years of his life in Little Rock, Arkansas. From the age of 10, he developed a love for music; influenced and supported by his father. After graduating from high school, Fisher left home and headed for Memphis, Tennessee, where he continued to improve his guitar technique and musical skills. He spent the next several years touring with such famous musicians as Salomon Burke and Albert King. Fisher then became a founding member of the Leo's Five Band and decided to settle down in St. Louis, Missouri.
"It was in East St. Louis that Eddie Fisher started making a name for himself when he began playing at the renowned Blue Note Club. Fisher enjoyed great success beginning in the 60s and early 70s when he recorded his first two albums, The Third Cup and The Next One Hundred Years. On his own label, Nentu Records, he has produced Fisher, The Promise and most recently released 42nd Street. Over the years, Fisher has recorded 6 CDs. He recently completed 10 European tours.
"Fisher's guitar playing and compositions span various jazz styles. Critics explain that he began his career as a straight jazz guitarist with relatively traditional soul jazz, while his more recent work has been described as "very trippy guitar funk." Another entertainment writer states, "It doesn't matter whether I'm in a happy mood or feeling depressed. The music is spirited in any possible way. There are jazz, funk, blues and soul influences."

This all-instrumental song is a personal favourite of mine (and I'm sure some of you have heard this one from me before). It is one of those songs where every instrument is playing a part that adds to the whole. You can focus on listening to a different instrument every time you play the track, and it will give you something new (try it, you'll see!). It is quite the busy song, but verrrry groovy.
Song: "Cosmic Blues"
From the album "HOT LUNCH" (Stang ST-1032) 1977
Horn Arrangement by Bobby Washington & Eddie Fisher
All other instruments played by Eddie Fisher (!)
Get it here: Eddie Fisher - Cosmic Blues